Green Washing, not greenwashing.

August 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Cleaning products

I recently went on a shopping spree in Soho. No, not for clothes, but for green cleaning products.

Green Depot began as a supplier of green building materials- think insulation, paint, tiles. Their success in the building world coincided with a rise in public awareness and interest, and they recently took the plunge into the consumer world. Green Depot’s store on the Bowery showcases all things to do with “living,” from building materials to gardening supplies and lighting options. They have a “filter” system that evaluates the environmental impact of their products, so as to “squarely address greenwashing.” With the curator of all things natural and organic (Whole Foods) just down the street, it certainly feels like Green Depot is angling for the position in the world of green.

For me, the jewel in the Green Depot crown is their cleaning agent refill bar.

Soap bar

Anyone can bring a bottle in and have it refilled with glass/tub & tile/all purpose cleaner or dish soap. Eager to give it a try, I crossed town with 3 empty bottles (method, Listerine & Envirostep) in hand. The stuff is literally on tap, and several pumps later, the friendly barista (soaptender?) had filled the bottles and taped on new labels. The cost? 12 cents an ounce, which works out to be less than a new bottle.

In addition to the modest cost savings, that’s three less plastic bottles for me to chuck in a landfill. (I’ve been haunted about my plastic footprint since watching “Garbage Island.”  It’s a problem.)

Is it reasonable to think that everyone is going to schlep around with empty bottles in their purse? Maybe not. But response has been very positive, and one hopes that it might provoke major players such as P&G and Unilever to acknowledge that consumers are beginning to care enough to go a little extra distance– and that there is opportunity to meet us halfway. I personally would be delighted if my supermarket had a refill station for everything from shampoo to cooking oil. –Kat

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Entry filed under: Business, Sustainability, Whole Health. Tags: .

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